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If you don’t agree with a pick here and there, that’s OK; half of the authorship
probably doesn’t either. As always, we welcome your comments at
info@baseballprospectus.com.


Catcher

Starter: Javier Lopez (Atlanta)
Reserves: Jason Kendall (Pittsburgh), Mike Piazza (NY Mets)

The real shock here is that Piazza isn’t the starter, but the sad fact is that
he doesn’t deserve it: he’s only drawn 19 walks in over 300 PA, and isn’t even
slugging .500 (.493). Lopez continues his maturation at the plate, with an OPS
of .968 – 140 points above his career average – while Kendall makes the team
for his .411 OBA, courtesy of 20 times HBP, and his continually improving work
behind the plate.


First base

Starter: Mark McGwire (St. Louis)
Reserves: Andres Galarraga (Atlanta), Travis Lee (Arizona)

McGwire and Galarraga are obvious choices; both have OPS figures in four
digits, with McGwire obviously putting on one of the best offensive displays
this decade. Lee is the Arizona token; did you know no one on that team is
slugging .500? With no defensive stars, ace starters, or dominating relievers,
finding a D-back for this team was like finding a Republican in Berkeley on May
Day. Lee’s selection gives the shaft to Mark Grace.


Second base

Starter: Craig Biggio (Houston)
Reserve: Delino DeShields (St. Louis)

Biggio’s a slam dunk, ranking head and shoulders above all other NL middle
infielders offensively this season, with more superb baserunning added in for
good measure. The tip of the cap here is to DeShields, who seems to have
rediscovered his batting eye – 40 walks already, compared to 55 last year and
53 the year before.


Third base

Starter: Scott Rolen (Phillies)
Reserve: Chipper Jones (Braves)

You could flip ’em around without much argument; I gave the starter’s nod to
Rolen on defensive grounds, as well as to acknowledge that Chipper has cooled
off since a torrid start. Vinny Castilla can come to the park, too, if he can
afford to scalp a ticket.


Shortstop

Starter: Walt Weiss (Braves)
Reserve: Edgar Renteria (Florida)

Weiss deserves the spot, although there’s a bit of a prayer for his son (and
the other children caught in the outbreak) here as well. If he chooses to sit
out, Renteria starts, and the Giants’ Rich Aurilia gets the call to back him
up.


Outfield

Starters: Sammy Sosa (Chicago Cubs), Greg Vaughn (San Diego), Larry Walker
(Colorado)
Reserves: Barry Bonds (San Francisco), Jeromy Burnitz (Milwaukee), Moises Alou
(Houston)

Sosa and Vaughn are self-explanatory, but after those two, there’s a large
group of deserving candidates separated by split hairs: Walker, Bonds, Tony
Gwynn, Bob Abreu, Brian Jordan, Carl Everett, and Moises Alou. Jordan gets the
boot because of his batting eye (just 15 walks in 292 PA – fewest of any NL
regular with an OPS over .900 this year). Abreu and Gwynn
stay home because their numbers just aren’t as impressive, although I can’t
dispute the fans’ desire to see the hit machine play. Bonds’ glove is still
among the best, and while his season at the plate may appear subpar, that’s
only by the absurdly high standard to which we hold him: his .978 OPS is still
good for 7th in the NL this year, 5th among outfielders. Burnitz is the token
Brewer; without him, or if Walker sits out, I take the suddenly patient Everett
(his 27 walks is 12 short of his career high, and 5 short of his 1997 total)
and start him as the only true centerfielder.


Pitchers

Honorary starter: Al Leiter (NY Mets)
Actual starter: Greg Maddux (Atlanta)
Other pitchers: Pete Harnisch (Cincinnati), Francisco Cordova (Pittsburgh),
Andy Ashby (San Diego), Rick Reed (NY Mets),
Ramon Martinez (Los Angeles), Curt Schilling (Phillies),
Tom Glavine (Atlanta), Trevor Hoffman (San Diego),
Robb Nen (San Francisco), Ugueth Urbina (Montreal)

Leiter and Galarraga are the two biggest surprises this year in my book, and I
acknowledge my underestimation of Al by giving him the nod to start … which
he must turn down due to an unfortunate knee injury. Maddux is probably more
deserving of the top honor, but it all works out in the end. Harnisch, the lone
Red on this team, is far from a token choice – his ERA (2.98) is 11th among NL
qualifiers, and his H/IP (0.76) is the best in the league. Urbina, the token
Expo, is also a deserving choice, although smart usage patterns have helped
keep his numbers low. Glavine is the last pitcher I took, and he only
gets on due to the expanded All-Star rosters this year. Martinez and
Leiter are replaced by Kevin Brown and
Antonio Osuna; I tabbed Osuna because there’s no reason closers should hog all
the reliever spots on the All-Star team. More shafts go to
Ricardo Rincon, and Todd Stottlemyre, and an honorable mention goes to Omar
Daal, who might have been a worthier selection than Travis Lee if he had
continued to pitch and pitch well.

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